Let’s start the new year with a quick confession, I used to be really into the New Year hype. I was constantly reading blogs and books from the likes of Michael Hyatt and Jon Acuff about living your best life and achieving your New Year’s resolutions.
But that’s not the season of my life I’m in anymore. I still like those guys, I just don’t have the energy needed to constantly be crushing my goals all the time. Trying to keep up with their expectations left me feeling disappointed in myself at times. And as a person who struggles to to have joy in my life anyway, I think it’s better for me to take a different approach to the new year at least for now.
So, for those reading this who may feel the same, let me scratch the 2024 commitments, and just offer some suggestions for pastors and church leaders for the new year.
- Pray more in 2024. Most of us know we should be praying more. This isn’t me trying to make you feel guilty, because this is as much as a suggestion for me as it is for anyone. I don’t pray enough. And I’d like to be more consistent in my prayer life. I think it helps us in every area of our lives, which is why we shouldn’t be neglecting it. While we’re on the topic, if you haven’t listened to the Doing Together podcast on Spiritual Disciplines, I highly recommend it.
- Spend more quality time with your spouse and family. Studies show that by the time our kids turn 18, we’ve already spent 90% of the time with them that we’ll ever spend with them. Let that sink in for a moment. Be wise with how and who you spend your time with. Schedule regular date nights with your spouse. Commit to putting the phones down and just being together for at least 30 minutes every day. Eat dinner at the table instead of in front of a television.
- Pick one area of life and one area of ministry to improve upon. For me, I need to be more intentional in developing deeper relationships with my friends. That’s one area of life I’m looking to improve in 2024. You may want to improve in your marriage, or in your finances, or in your physical health. Pick one and focus on it. Do the same for your ministry. Spend the year learning how you can improve your preaching, or start a discipleship group, or learn how to get better at digital ministry.
- Send 3-5 encouraging messages each week. The beginning of the year is a great time to start sending thank you cards to your church members. In the next week or two, write down everyone’s name who attends the church your serve or is a part of your ministry and start sending out thank you cards. You can also do this through a text or phone call. Make it a part of your weekly schedule and don’t forget it. I know this seems simple, but I really believe it could be one of the most valuable things you do this year.
- Bonus suggestion – Connect with other pastors and leaders. If your community has a monthly pastors breakfast, try to attend it. If you’re a youth pastor or worship pastor, look for other youth pastors or worship pastors to chat with occasionally. If your church is part of an association or denomination, then show up for the meetings. You may not feel like you get any value from the meeting, but I can promise you that there are people there who would get value from you if you’re willing to invest in the relationship. Checking out and just doing your own thing may be the easier path, but it’s rarely the best path to take.
That’s all I got for you. A few simple suggestions. Take them or leave them. I’m going to try my best to do each one of these, and hopefully 2024 will turn out to be a great year.
About the Author: Travis Stephens in the Vice President for Church Health for General Baptist Ministries. He has been married to his wife Samantha for 17 years, and they have two daughters Layla and Presley.